I am writing with an update on the schedule and plans for the spring semester. Because of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it is important to keep in mind that the schedule is subject to change depending on local public health conditions and local, state and federal guidelines, to which we will strictly adhere.
The plans for the spring semester are as follows:
Move-in for the spring semester will begin in early February, between February 3 and 5 and continue for two weeks of testing and self-quarantining before classes begin on February 17. As with the fall semester, we will be welcoming students back to campus on staggered arrival dates, with specific move-in dates known by the end of November.
As with the fall semester, all returning students must provide a negative FDA Emergency Use Authorized COVID-19 test to the Vassar College Health Service, taken within seven days of their scheduled campus arrival.
With the phased arrivals, once on campus, we will replicate the process and policies from the fall semester with: curbside drop-off, subsequent testing conducted at regular intervals, quarantining as a campus, and students required to remain on-campus for the semester. In short, arrival for spring will look a lot like the fall. We will remain in compliance with state guidelines, which currently mandate a 14-day quarantine for visitors from other countries and many other states, so it will also be important to monitor the NY State travel advisory list when planning to return to campus. See the full Spring Calendar, attached.
Classes will end May 24 followed by a study period and exam period. The exam period concludes on June 1. Commencement will be held June 6. No decision has been made yet as to whether Commencement can or will have an in-person component.
We have also included a mid-semester break in the calendar. This break will be shorter than the traditional spring break, and students will be required to stay on campus during it. We received considerable feedback from students that the fall semester was difficult because of the lack of an October break. We hope that having a time period free of classes will support students in the upcoming semester.
This spring calendar was created after much planning involving the VassarTogether committee, students, faculty, administrators, and staff, and has now been endorsed by faculty vote per Vassar’s Governance. The later start date was selected in order to minimize the effect of the colder weather on our strategy of holding outdoor classes, as well as our sensitivity to the mental health effects of losing the outdoors as a resource during the coldest months. We balanced that consideration, however, with the need to consider student and faculty plans for the summer, particularly internships, summer jobs, and faculty research.
Again, these plans are subject to change per NY State guidelines, and we will keep you posted as needed with further updates during the Winter Break. Please check the VassarTogether website for up-to-date information.
I want to congratulate the community for adhering to the guidelines and protocols we have had in place this fall. It has not been easy, and you have truly implemented “we precedes me.” Let’s continue to stay healthy and to express our gratitude and care for one another.
Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604